Much-needed support for the small business sector is on the horizon, officials from the St. Patrick’s Cooperative Credit Union (SPCCU) said Thursday.
Today is International Credit Union Day and during an hour-long discussion on local radio ZJB, Peter Queeley, General Manager of the island’s lone credit union confirmed that work is in progress to reboot the National Development Fund, to offer small loans for entrepreneurs here.
Queeley and Chairman of the SPCCU board Eugene Skerritt spoke with editor of Discover Montserrat Nerissa Golden about the financial institution’s past, present and future. Both officials said that considering the current times they are advising their members to save as much as possible and to adjust their spending habits as the local and international economic environment remains tenuous.
However, they note that their members have also been affected by the extended closure of the island and reduction in economic activity. While they have made effort to support small business owners with bridge loans and adjusting repayment plans for members, there is a need for more. To this end, the board of the SPCCU has made the decision to revitalize the National Development Fund to allow members to borrow money to start or improve current businesses. The general manager said they are legally and morally bound to be prudent with the money that members invest in the credit union and it would be risky to use member funds to offer loans for new ventures which are unproven.
However, the almost two million dollars in the NDF can be used for innovative business ideas which meet the criteria that will be established. Queeley added that they have had discussions with the Government of Montserrat to also use the remaining funds from the Montserrat Development Corporation’s (MDC) business finance facility of close to XCD 200,000.
The credit union will back the programme and expect to announce before year’s end a request for applications to access the fund.
Listen to the broadcast below: